Itâ€™s the weekend after a particularly long week, so it seems like the perfect time to sit back, relax and enjoy my sick-wah-teh (sikwate or hot chocolate). Heehee. I have written about hot chocolate before, even did a post on the fresh and edible cacao fruit as well, as well as a post on the fabulous cup of hot chocolate we had at Escriba, in Barcelona last year. But I received nearly a kilo worth of utterly fresh tablea from my sister-in-law, who had recently visited Tagbilaran, so I have been overdosing on the stuff during the past week or so. But first, I did this previous post on batidors and chocolateras, just to get the paraphernalia nomenclature straightâ€¦
These tableas are the stuff of childhood memories. In the photos above, the tablea made from pure cacao are wrapped in dried banana leaves. We used to spend a week or two each summer in a small town in Bohol, where my motherâ€™s family had their summer ancestral home. Her parents were rather well-known in the province, he having served in the provincial and national government, while she hailed from a large well-known clan with its members spread from Leyte to Cebu. My mother and her siblings lived a charmed life until the outbreak of World War II. But my grandparentsâ€™ resistance to Japanese occupation during the war and subsequent long months on the run in the forests of Bohol, constantly evading capture by the Japanese army, ended in a tragic and brutal execution which the Japanese did just days AFTER the liberation by MacArthur began. I never met my motherâ€™s parents, but by all accounts I would have liked them immensely. Their execution was a major trauma for my mom and her siblings.
Accompanying my mother to Bohol in those days was something I fiercely dreaded, it was intensely rural, and boring for someone aged 8 or so. But being the youngest, I had no choice but to be dragged along, with the few highpoints of the journey being unlimited supplies of broas and hot chocolate. In my later years, I actually saw those trips as extremely poignant and perhaps difficult journeys for my mom, who was returning to the scene of such painful personal memories. One can understand why she couldnâ€™t eat Japanese food for several decades after; but later embraced the food and culture of Japan as only someone with real grace wouldâ€¦her appreciation of Japanese ceramics, fabrics, paintings and handicrafts along with a fascination for Ikebana floral arrangements seemed a tremendous gesture, in retrospect. She knew beauty when she saw it.
Hot chocolate and my mom are inseparable memories. I can distinctly picture her at a stove, intently and vigorously churning the tablea and water, before adding copious amounts of sugar and in her day, evaporated milk to the brew. I wasnâ€™t a huge fan of hot chocolate then, as I always thought it was grainy and a bit watery, but I did love dipping broas into the hot chocolate, and still do. Since it was recently my momâ€™s 11th death anniversary, and we had a bounty of authentic Boholano tablea, I decided to make several batches of hot chocolate in her memoryâ€¦
First, a more watery version that somewhat approximated the ones I had as a kid. Take two cups of water and boil it in a chocolatera, add 6 small pure chocolate tableas or roughly 60 grams worth and mix this with a batidor. Twist the batidor vigorously to froth the chocolate. Add about 4-6 measured tablespoons (as opposed to heaping ones) of brown sugar to taste and continue to churn. Take this off the heat and add milk or cream to taste while still churning the mixtureâ€¦serve hot. Preferably, with Boholano broas on the side.
Comments in the previous post on Batidora mention a version called Kinutil in Cebu; this mixture has added tuba (coconut liquor/wine) and a raw egg, which serves to thicken the brew and add the alcoholic punch. This combination probably harks back to the Spanish times as a similar treatment seems to be applied in Mexico. I made an alcohol free version of this by changing the proportions slightlyâ€¦ I added 6 tableas (60 grams) to 1.5 cups of boiling water, then milk or cream and 5 tablespoons of brown sugar. Once off the flame, I added a raw egg that had been lightly beaten and continued to churn the hot chocolate. Though this resulted in a thicker drink, in the small glass below, it was still much more watery than hot chocolates I had in Spain last year. I suspect the super thick ones are made with heavy cream, and have either an egg included or possibly, a touch of cornstarch even. I understand that the Bulacan versions can include ground nuts which would extend the cacao which is costly and serve to thicken the resulting drinkâ€¦ I suppose it is a matter of what you grew up with, but I like the pure cacao version betterâ€¦Other classic pairings with this hot chocolate woulb be some puto, ripe mangoes or suman or budbudâ€¦ Yum. I am sure mom is enjoying this post, wherever she may be…